I was able to visit a couple of national art galleries in Edinburgh the morning before we went to the train station. At noon we had a quick meal and then piled into a taxi with all six bags of luggage and a man from the hotel dressed in a kilt. We drove around the corner of the hotel and down into the train station area. It was a very large station with a couple of levels and a glass ceiling. There were multiple sets of tracks, several trains and lots of people. However, it wasn’t very noisy or complicated. We were driven right to the lounge for the Royal Scotsman train where some young man were waiting. They unloaded the baggage and took it to the train and we went upstairs to wait with the other passengers. When it was time to leave we all went down to the sidewalk where a very large man, with a large mustache dressed in kilts played bag pipes and marched us to the train. It had to be a strange sight and other people in the station took photos. We all boarded the train and in a short time we began to move.
The Royal Scotsman is part of the Orient Express line of luxury trains. We are on the three day trip which goes for 660 miles and involves spending three nights on the train. This train starts at Edinburgh with sixteen twin and four single cabins carrying thirty six passengers. There are two dining cars and one observation car. There are at least nine cars behind the engine and the train is very long as the cars are long and narrow. The train travels only during the day and stops at night when the guests are sleeping. There are stops along the way including one at the Dalmore distillery. The train only moves at less then thirty miles an hour and pulls over to side tracks from time to time to let passenger trains roar by at over a hundred miles an hour.
We left Edinburgh around two o’clock and headed North. The landscape soon changed into the Scottish Moore with wild Rhododendrons growing with yellow Scottish Bloom. The brown bushes were Heather which turn a brilliant purple; The land is marshy because there is rock below the thin top soil and it rains a lot. Rolling hills and small trees remind me of Wyoming or Montana. There are glens, lochs and rolling hills. There are lakes and a variety of trees. We go over a high bridge on our way.
We lurch along with a minimum amount of rocking. The cars are furnished in a Victorian manner and the train is a trip back in time to see with wood furnishings. The observation car seats all of the passengers and has comfortable chairs and sofas. There is a small deck at the end where you can go outside and stand. I thought of Harry Truman who ran against Dewey by cris-crossing the country in a train giving speeches from the rear platform just like this one. Winston Churchill rode one of the cars now used for dining.
Our cabin is about fifteen feet long by about eight feet wide. There is a small desk and a small closet. The bath room is the size of what you find in small yachts. There are two narrow bunks; One is lined up so the head of the bed is in the direction the train is moving and the other is across the room on one end. We removed what we need from the luggage and stored it in the drawers below the beds. They found a place to store our luggage. After a short time the room doesn’t seem to be that small.
The cars are narrow and the walkway along the cars perhaps a yard wide so two people cannot pass at the same time. They are exactly like every black and white movie I’ve seen where action on trains is featured.
The first night on board was a tuxedo night and everyone looked very elegant including the men dressed in kilts. We started in the observation car with drinks and then moved to the two dining cars. The food and wine was outstanding and the service wonderful. The space where the meals are created is confined and hot. The chefs do a marvelous job with the limited facility they work in. The wine selection is also very good. All of the food, liquor and wine is included in the price of the tri. Lita looked lovely and we had someone take our photo in the observation car.
After dinner we went to bed while the other passengers when back to the observation car for drinks and music.
Sleep was difficult even though the train wasn’t moving. The weather has turned a very rare warm sunny weather and it was warm in the car. The beds are narrow and sleep difficult. The next day we managed to shower in the small shower stall and went to breakfast. I passed on the traditional Haggis (made with sheep intestines) and had less exciting eggs and sausage. We then moved ahead and everyone went to the observation car with their cameras. As I type this it is about 2:00 and the train is stopped at a siding Fort Williams. Everyone else has gone on excursions. I prefer to walk about and get some exercise.